It seems like only yesterday that Sebastian Vettel announced that he’d be retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the season; however, the end of the year is now remarkably just a few days away, as is the four-time World Champion’s retirement.
Vettel has gone from being a disliked driver to perhaps one of the most loved, with the 35-year-old having grown and matured throughout his career.
His persona as a relentless winner in the first few years of his career in F1 made fans take a negative viewing to him. but now tears will be flowing across the world as he crosses the line for the final time.
Four World Championships and 53 Grand Prix victories later, Vettel has enjoyed one of the most successful careers in the history of the sport, one that has seen him slot comfortably into the top five most successful drivers in the history of the sport.
But could he have achieved even more?
That is a question he might ask himself when he jumps out of his car for the final time, with his spell at Ferrari perhaps a time he may wish to redo.
Vettel moved to Ferrari in 2015, dreaming of taking the Scuderia back to the top, something he ultimately failed to do.
Incredibly, he was linked to a move to Mercedes whilst at Ferrari, to partner Lewis Hamilton, something he has recently revealed he had no interest in due to being “so committed” to the Maranello-based team.
“I don’t know, maybe there was,” he told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.
“I spoke with Niki [Lauda, then Mercedes non-executive chairman] but to be honest I was half way through the Ferrari period and joining would have been a big deal because Lewis was sort of their No.1 and I’m not sure whether they would have liked to have us both in the team.
“But I also didn’t have great interest in that time because I was so committed to Ferrari and that was my dream to make that thing work so you talk to each other but it wasn’t really serious.
“At that time, my focus was to win with Ferrari and that was my target. I didn’t want to change teams and win with Mercedes. Other than just winning that I really love, it was winning with Ferrari that was the great goal.”
Given that they were rivals, Hamilton and Vettel being team-mates would’ve perhaps been a bad idea, given that both are very much alpha drivers.
Interestingly, Vettel discussed the incident between the two at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where tensions boiled over between the pair.
Whilst preparing for a Safety Car restart, Vettel accused Hamilton of brake-checking him.
In anger at the incident, Vettel pulled to the side of the seven-time World Champion and rammed into the side of him, a situation he believes actually “brought us together”.
“I think it would have been a great challenge [driving alongside Hamilton] and I think I would have enjoyed that. But it just wasn’t meant to be,” he added.
“We get along really well. We had maybe a misunderstanding in Baku. I was very upset.
“It was one of these moments where things didn’t go my way and I was upset and maybe the emotional side did take too much over. But I think that moment was a key moment because it could have made us step away from each other more or bring us together and it brought us together.
“It wasn’t sportsmanlike and not fair, which I admitted afterwards and we talked to each other. I think after that moment we got closer to each other.”